Barnstaple is the civic centre for the North Devon region and forms the central hub for the Tarka Trail. As a centre of commerce, many railways terminated at Barnstaple in year’s past leaving a network of old routes behind, many of which have now been tarmacked over for leisure use and have been adopted by the Tarka Trail. This circular route makes use of some of those paths, but also diverts into the town centre where you will find a diverse range of shops which include most high street brands as well as local crafts, cafe’s and boutique stores, which make Barnstaple the vibrant town it is today.
Steeped in history, the walk takes in the many features of the town which have been around for many years, such as the Pannier Market and Long Bridge.
The walk starts at the Severn Brethren car park next to the North Devon Leisure Centre. Pick up the Tarka Trail near the river’s edge and start south away from the town centre. The path will follow the river until you reach an iron bridge, where you can cross to the other side. Here the walk turns north, back towards the town, continuing along the Tarka Trail through Rock Park.
At the children’s play area, you will loop back on yourself traveling back south along Ladie’s Mile until you reach a junction, where you will turn left at the sign for the Tarka Trail. Continue traveling east along this path until you reach a main road. Cross the road and continue. Along this next stretch you will pass under bridges and see works of art along the trail. Continue until you reach a Y junction. Stay left here and continue on until you see reach a T juntion, where another path, signed The Tarka Trail will turn left, heading back towards the town.
This path will take you through a commercial estate until you reach Hollowtree Road. Turn right to the crossing, cross the road and continue along the path. A short way along this stretch you will cross a small bridge that will take you off the trail and into Town Walk. Turn left here and continue towards the town centre. Follow the path through a park until you reach Victoria Road.
Turn left onto Victoria Road and follow the road until it bends right. Follow the bend and continue on, passing a row of hotels along the way. Eventually you will arrive at a Y junction with a mini roundabout. Take the right fork here along Litchdon Street and follow this until a bend in the road, where Litchdon street takes a left turn. Take the left turn and keep following Litchdon Street until you arrive at a junction where you should be able to see the clock tower on the other side of the road.
The clock tower is located at Barnstaple Square, which is also home to the Barnstaple Museum. Cross the square in front of the museum and locate the pedestrian crossing. Cross here and continue your journey by veering right into Boutport Street. You will very soon see a junction where Boutport street merges into High Street on the left, but stay right and continue along Boutport street, passing the cinema on the left.
The next junction is the meeting of Boutport Street and Queens Street. Continue north on Boutport street until you reach a road on the left hand side called Butchers Row. Turn left along Butchers row past a selection of local foods shops, delis and cafes until you come out on the High Street. Turn right onto High Street and continue north until you see an overhead sign for Gammon Walk on your left.
Cut through Gammon walk until you come out at the Barnstaple Library. Around the back of the library is the ancient mound dating back to Norman times with the remnants of a castle still existing. The Castle, as it is known locally is not included in this walk, but well worth a detour.
Turn left at the library along Tuly Street next to The Cattle Market car park and then turn right along Holland street, following the car park perimeter. When you come out onto Castle street, turn left and follow the block until Cross street where you will turn left again, heading back towards the high street. This area of town was once the financial centre and contains some beautiful old buildings and architecture.
At the end of Cross Street, you will be back out onto High Street, where you will turn right and continue on until you get back to the same pedestrian crossing you used to enter the town centre. Cross the road again, but this time turn right onto the bridge and away from The Square. Continue over the bridge. At the end of the bridge, just before the traffic lights is a pedestrian walkway on the left which once again picks up the Tarka Trail. Follow the trail along the river and around the back of the leisure centre and eventually you will find yourself back at the car park where you started.
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